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Cleaner energy for Asia

Pollution in Asia increases daily as the continent continues to enjoy economic growth, and the number of coal-fired power plants grows. The Asian Development Bank recently announced its intention to spend US$1 billion to promote clean energy projects in the region.

Coal provides half of India’s energy, and nearly two-thirds of China’s – many of the plants having been funded by the ADB itself. Now the Bank recognises the need to prevent further deterioration of the environment, and will use the money to identify and fund projects that support continued growth in the region, while helping to slow climate change.

Household Water Metering in the UK

The number of UK households that have a water meter is on the increase – but there is no evidence yet that metering is having a significant influence on usage patterns. Rising concerns about climate change mean the time is ripe to change the way metering has been applied, to develop innovative tariffs to encourage conservation, and to start planning the cost-effective development of an appropriate metering infrastructure.

When the water industry in England and Wales was lined up for privatisation at the end of the 1980s, one of the issues was whether to include household metering as part of the flotation package. Several options were modelled, based on completing household metering by 2000 – which would have meant the installation of about 20 million meters. In the end it was decided to exclude a commitment to complete household metering and to leave it as an issue on which the newly appointed regulator, the Director of Water Services, would reach agreement with the companies in terms of pace and costs. In retrospect it is difficult to decide if this was good or bad for the industry and its customers. On the down side, those who believe that metering controls demand will point to the current supply/demand imbalance in the south-east of England and argue that, had metering been fully established, the supply companies would have been in a
better position to sustain supplies over the summer of 2006. The general view is that a metered charging system would see customers less prepared to pay for using water outdoors – the sort of use which can generate significant demand peaks in the summer and for which companies require large expensive storage.

Smart Energy Meters : Commercial, Policy and Regulatory Drivers

Modern smart meters are not being installed in the United Kingdom because the policy and regulatory framework contributes to inertia against upgrade and technology change. Ofgem and the government need to define clear pathways to give the industry confidence to install smart meters.

These are key findings of a study of the commercial, policy and regulatory drivers for smart metering that we conducted for the think tank Sustainability First. The work was sponsored by five of the major UK  energy suppliers – EdF Energy, E.On, RWE-npower, Scottish and Southern Energy and Centrica – and industry players the Energy Saving Trust, energywatch, IBM Business Consulting and Ampy Meters. The project set out to assess the costs and benefits of smart metering in the UK; to consider the structure and operation of the UK metering market; to assess the UK case for smart meters in the light of international experience, especially on energy saving; and to identify the policy and regulatory changes needed to secure  wider uptake of smart meters. We carried out comprehensive desk research and structured interviews between October 2005 and March 2006. The report identifies smart meters as an important gateway:

• For energy suppliers – to improve market operation through better ways of tackling energy management, and creating new retail opportunities.
• For small and medium enterprises (SMEs) and households – to achieve energy savings through improved feedback on energy consumption and expenditure; to develop demand-response at an individual level; and to develop new scope for micro-generation.

The study finds that the significant opportunities, both for suppliers and for consumers, risk not being realised because the present commercial, policy and regulatory framework combine to create an inertia which acts against significant meter-stock upgrade or technological change. Little is likely to happen to stimulate smart meter installation at the residential or SME level in the UK without additional measures. Clear policy and regulatory pathways are needed. The Energy Review and a new European Directive on Energy End-Use Efficiency offer the opportunity to develop firm recommendations and a clear policy road-map for delivery of smart energy meters in the UK. Concerted leadership from the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) will be needed, with appropriate support from the Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) and the UK energy regulator Ofgem.

Smart Meters and Demand Response – The Potential Impacts for Utilities...

Utilities companies are considering the potential benefits of smart meters and their impact on consumer choices. Will smart meters encourage consumers to make ‘smarter’ choices in responding to electricity price signals? Will those choices impact their consumption patterns – and what economic benefits will follow? And how should smart meters and other enabling technology be considered in a broader demand response context? Several motivators have come together to drive this growing interest in smart meters and consumer behaviour:

• Public policies to support energy efficiency, demand response, and conservation. Examples in the United States include the Energy Policy Act of 2005 (EPACT), the Environmental Protection Agency, and state-specific initiatives such as California’s smart meter programme.
• Growing consumer interest. Consumers want access to ‘smart’ tools to manage energy use and reduce costs, particularly in response to high and volatile fuel prices but also because of a growing interest in conserving energy.
• Utility objectives for operational efficiency. Targeted demand response will provide some operational flexibility. The smart metering platform and associated communications infrastructure can provide significant operational benefits, including improved productivity.
• A platform for additional consumer options. Coupling smart meters with other technology will enable the evelopment of customer energy management options beyond critical peak pricing and time-of-use pricing to drive even greater benefits to consumers and utilities.

City Strategies Promoting Energy Effecieny and Renewable Energy

Conference: Metering, Billing, CRM/CIS Africa 2006
Location: Cape Town, South Africa
Presenter: Leila Mahomed
Abstract: In this paper Mahomed presents the notion of sustainable energy and climate change strategy that effectively combats the effects of ineffecient energy management in the modern city. In particular she focusses on the notion of the modern city, financial, development, environmental issues, selling and setting up energy effeciency and renewable energy strategies and finally the introduction of a sustainable energy and climate change strategy.

Billing complaints can be resolved with smart meters

Billing complaints can be resolved with smart meters 

 

Last year 60% of all the complaints energywatch received were from consumers with billing issues. Late, inaccurate, infrequent and estimated bills caused serious problems for many families and businesses trying to balance their finances. Many would end up in debt, be threatened with disconnection and forced to use prepayment meters that, in the UK, tend to be the most expensive payment method.

Efficiency Valuation: Creating the optimal megawatt meter

From Rome to Beijing, the kind of power shortages that became headlines in California several years ago are spreading around the globe. In addition to the strains on the energy infrastructure created by fast growth, the connection of energy development to climate change is now being considered at the highest levels of government. The UN’s Kyoto protocol was adopted, and at the recent G8 Summit in Britain climate change and the related need for further action tocontrol emissions topped the agenda.

ZigBee – A standards-based wireless networking solution

Could a new wireless technology realise global energy conservation? Could wireless sensors built in to irrigation systems more effectively measure and manage ground water saturation levels and redirect water resources to improve farming? For states struggling to better manage electric utilities during peak usage times to prevent entire city grids from going down, would wireless monitoring sensors be highly effective in real time metering?

From securing revenues to business intelligence

Beyond securing revenue, high performance utilities are beginning to realise other benefits that effective metering can bring to their business, such as tailored tariffs, asset management and improved control of demand. Interestingly, water companies may now be showing the way to apply metering to drive out these wider benefits.

GETTING METERING RIGHT

Utilities around the world, in markets mature and immature, competitive and uncompetitive, are facing challenges in basic metering. Notwithstanding the impact on customer service, at a minimum metering problems lead to inefficiency. But in many cases – especially in highly competitive supply markets – they can have far more impact.

Instrument transformers – the forgotten link in the accuracy chain

For years, energy supply companies have aspired to precisely and fairly account for the power and energy consumed or supplied, and tried to decrease transmission and distribution losses. The proportion of meters of accuracy class 0.5S and 0.2S is growing world-wide. More and more combined meters, capable of measuring active and reactive power at an accuracy of 1%, 0.5%, or even 0.2 % are being used. Voltage (PT) and current transformers (CT) with an accuracy of 0.5S or 0.2S are also installed more frequently, while the use of a higher accuracy class meter as part of the accuracy chain has improved the overall accuracy.

During on-site error examinations, the instrument transformer – though an important factor – is regularly recorded as a constant. However the accuracy of an instrument transformer depends on several influencing factors: the burden, the respective measurement value, the condition of the coils, and environmental conditions such as climate and external magnetic fields. In error examinations the value defined as the accuracy class of the transformer, be it a voltage or current transformer, is in practice only valid in a narrow range.
PERFORMANCE OF INSTRUMENT TRANSFORMERS IN PRACTICAL APPLICATIONS

The intrinsic errors of the PTs and CTs are determined in the laboratory through tests on individual transformers. The tests are carried out in accordance with  international regulations – IEC 60044-1 for current transformers and IEC 60044-2 for voltage transformers.

Accurate meters- Essential for water abstraction

The first abstraction licences in England and Wales were written under the terms of the Water Resources Act 1963 and were issued from 1965 onwards. From the start, all abstraction licences have carried a condition stipulating the maximum quantities of water that may be abstracted. Most also required a meter to measure the abstraction, but the conditions in the early years were vague and neither abstractors nor their regulator knew much about meters.

Clearly, an accurate meter is central to regulation of abstraction from the water environment. Nevertheless, meters have not been well understood by the officers of the Environment Agency (EA) and its predecessors, and it is only in very recent years that those who inspect abstraction sites have had adequate training in the subject.

This need to understand meters has been brought about in part because the relationship between abstractors and the regulator has changed. Prior to 2001, the EA used to send inspectors to all the sites at which it authorised a discharge into and/or an abstraction from the environment. Now, more responsibility lies with licence holders to ensure they are observing the conditions of their licences.

Of course, the Agency does still send inspectors to check licences, but priority is given to abstractions where the environment requires special protection, or where there is a known problem. Many abstractions do not fall into either of these categories and, even when a licence authorises a very large abstraction, the licence holder is expected to record and return its own data. It is essential for the Environment Agency to have confidence in the source of that data if its officers are visiting less frequently.

Until October 2001, most abstraction licences in England and Wales were issued ‘in perpetuity’. What is more, the Environment Agency has never been empowered to revoke a licence, except for non-payment of charges. This is still true, but now all new licences, and many that are varied at the holders’ request, are time-limited. To sweeten the pill, licensees have been told there will be a presumption of renewal provided that:

GPRS – ‘Point-to-point’ AMR solutions forge ahead

Since Sweden introduced new legislation in 2003 requiring monthly reading of all metering points from 2009, many new entrants from different industries have focused on the AMR challenge. Larger projects have also exposed some weaknesses of the traditional techniques on the market, highlighting the critical importance of issues that may seem insignificant on a smaller scale.

So far, larger projects in Scandinavia have involved PLC and RF solutions with dedicated infrastructure networks, with GSM mostly used for communicating data from the concentrator/collector device back to the host central system. The prevailing commercial terms made GSM a last resort for communicating directly with isolated metering points that are impractical or expensive to reach.

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